United States District Court, N.D. Illinois
T. Turkcan One of Plaintiff's Attorneys.
PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR JUDGMENT AS A MATTER OF
LAW ON HIS UNLAWFUL ENTRY CLAIM
Gary Cooper respectfully requests that this Court enter a
judgment as a matter of law on his Fourth Amendment unlawful
entry claim because Defendant Officers did not have a
warrant, exigent circumstances, or consent to enter his
apartment on March 22, 2014.
is no dispute that Defendant Officers made a warrantless
entry into Cooper's home on March 22, 2014 and that
neither Cooper nor his girlfriend D'Andrea Crossley
consented to that warrantless entry. Defendant Officers have
been fully heard with respect to their reasons for entering
Cooper's apartment without a warrant, and none of those
reasons amount to a reasonable belief that someone inside the
apartment was in need of immediate emergency aid. Plaintiff
is entitled to a judgment at a matter of law that Defendant
Officers' warrantless entry of his apartment on March 22,
2014 was unlawful.
Rule of Civil Procedure 50(a) provides as follows:
(1) If during a trial by jury a party has been fully heard on
an issue and there is no legally sufficient evidentiary basis
for a reasonable jury to find for that party on that issue,
the court may determine the issue against that party and may
grant a motion for judgment as a matter of law against that
party with respect to a…defense that cannot under the
controlling law be maintained or defeated without a favorable
finding on that issue.
(2) Motions for judgment as a matter of law may be made at
any time before submission of the case to the jury. Such a
motion shall specify the judgment sought and the law and the
facts on which the moving party is entitled to judgment.
Fourth Amendment protects “the right of the people to
be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects,
against unreasonable searches and seizures.” U.S.
Const. Amend. IV. “[P]hysical entry of the home is the
chief evil” that the Fourth Amendment targets,
United States v. United States District Court for the E.
Dist. of Mich., S. Div., 407 U.S. 297, 313 (1972), and
it is “a ‘basic principle of Fourth Amendment
law' that searches and seizures inside a home without a
warrant are presumptively unreasonable.” Payton v.
New York, 445 U.S. 573, 586 (1980) (quoting Coolidge
v. New Hampshire, 403 U.S. 443, 477 (1971)). The Fourth
Amendment “prohibits the police from making a
warrantless and nonconsensual entry into a suspect's home
in order to make a routine…arrest, even for a felony,
and even with probable cause.” Hawkins v.
Mitchell, 756 F.3d 983, 992 (7th Cir. 2014) (citing
Payton, 445 U.S. at 576)).
said, the Fourth Amendment does allow police officers to
enter a home without a warrant or consent when (1) probable
cause supports the entry and (2) exigent
circumstances exist. United States v. Andrews, 442
F.3d 996, 1000 (7th Cir. 2006). Exigent circumstances
“exist when there is a compelling need for official
action and no time to secure a warrant, such as when an
officer must enter premises to render emergency assistance to
an injured occupant or to protect an occupant from imminent
injury.” United States v. Venters, 539 F.3d
801, 807 (7th Cir. 2008) (quotation marks and citations
omitted). However, the Seventh Circuit has explained that
“exigent circumstances do not exist when the underlying
offense is minor, typically a misdemeanor.”
Hawkins, 756 F.3d at 992. It should be noted that
characterizing a warrantless entry of a home as a
“well-being check” or a “premises
check” does not change the Fourth Amendment analysis.
See Sutterfield v. City of Milwaukee, 751 F.3d 542,
553-54 (7th Cir. 2014) (the “community caretaking
function” exception to the warrant requirement only
applies to searches of automobiles, not searches of homes);
Fitzgerald v. Santoro, 842 F.Supp.2d 1064 (N.D. Ill.
2014) (applying the Fourth Amendment exigent circumstances
test to a warrantless search of a home that the police
characterized as a “well-being check.”).
Officers admit that they did not have a warrant to search
Cooper's apartment. Thus, their entry into Cooper's
home was presumptively unreasonable as a matter of law, and
they must show that either (1) they had consent of a resident
of the apartment to enter or (2) that probable cause and
exigent circumstances justified their warrantless entry and
search. A landlord cannot consent to a search of his
tenant's leasehold. U.S. v. Chaidez, 919 F.2d
1193, 1201 (7th Cir. 1990) (citing Chapman v. United
States, 365 U.S. 610 (1961)). Furthermore, exigent
circumstances did not justify Defendant Officers'
warrantless entry because they were, at most, investigating a
property damage and noise complaint. Nothing in the record
suggests that Defendant Officers thought anyone inside the
apartment was injured or that evidence of a serious crime was
being destroyed. Thus, this Court should grant judgment as a
matter of law in Cooper's favor on his unlawful entry
Cooper did not consent to Defendant Officers' entry, and
as a matter of law, Cooper's landlord could not provide
undisputed that neither Cooper nor his girlfriend consented
to Defendant Officers' search of their apartment. Thus,
the only source of “consent” that Defendant
Officers can point to is Cubic, who opened the door to
Cooper's apartment for them. However, a landlord does not
have authority to permit a search of his tenant's
leasehold. Chaidez, 919 F.2d at 1201. The Supreme
Court has explained that this rule exists because a
“tenant in the ordinary course does not take premises
subject to any formal or informal agreement that the landlord
may let visitors into the dwelling…neither state-law
property rights, nor common contractual arrangements, nor any
other source points to a common understanding of authority to
admit third parties generally without the consent of a person
occupying the premises.” Georgia v. Randolph,
547 U.S. 103, 112 (2006). Thus, a person on the scene who
identifies himself as a landlord calls up no authority to
admit police without the consent of the current occupant.
status as Cooper's landlord does not mean that Defendant
Officers had “consent” to enter Cooper's
apartment. The evidence establishes that Defendant Officers
knew that Apartment 310 West was leased and occupied by
tenants who had not consented to their entry or search.
Rather, only the landlord requested and purported to
authorize the search. As a matter of law, there was no reason
for Defendant Officers to think that Cubic had authority, or
even apparent authority, to consent to the search because
they knew that he was just the landlord. See
Randolph, 547 U.S. at 112. While it is possible that
certain unusual tenancy agreements could provide a landlord
with such authority, Defendants have not established and
cannot establish that Cooper and Crossley's lease allowed
Cubic “an unfettered right to allow third parties to
access [Cooper's] property without his consent.”
Montgomery v. Village of Posen, ...